Make no mistake about it; the current recession will hurt some soccer tournaments. Attendance will be down as teams will travel to fewer and fewer tournaments. And some tournaments, especially the ones that attract teams from more affluent areas where wealth is based on stocks and high home value may feel especially high pressure to limit soccer tournament travel.
The only bright light in this whole financial mess is the low cost of gasoline. Or, is it?
While teams may be cutting the number of tournaments in their schedule, it really only matters if they cut yours. If you have worked to create a must-attend tournament event, most likely you will survive the cut.
Here are some must-attend qualities:
1. You have consistently worked to make the teams feel at home while they are guests at your event.
Have you worked to make sure their questions were answered quickly via email? If they have had hotel problems, did you help to resolve them? When there were disputes about scoring, rules, etc, did you work with each party to resolve for a win-win-win? Are your volunteers cheerful and helpful? At the end of the tournament, did the most loosingest team remark in some fashion, “We lost every game, but had a blast! We’ll be back next year!”
2. Your organization is solid.
You have control of your data and everyone knows what is going on, from the host coach at a league game to the advertising coordinator to the person in charge of registering the teams. Your web site is up-to-date at all times, even to the minute during the tournament weekend. Your front page has news, maybe even hourly during the competition.
3. You have solid sponsors
This may seem like a little thing, but adidas doesn’t just sponsor anyone. And, once you get their sponsorship, you don’t get to keep it forever without working hard at it, especially in this economy. Parents and coaches are fairly savvy about what it takes to convince a corporation to spend sponsorship dollars at a youth soccer event that only takes place for 2-3 days in a limited geographic area. A display of some well-heeled sponsors get you respect.
4. Games are played on time and are well-controlled
Don’t underestimate the power of keeping a tight control of the games on the field. Many teams have been to a lot of tournaments where nobody seems to be in charge, games are played when referees stroll onto the field and all sorts of loosey-goosey standards. Don’t be one of those events! Expect everyone to show up on time, schedule enough referees to over-cover the games and make sure the volunteer field marshals know the times, locations and duties. And, if you can’t find volunteers, pay your field marshals. They are that important, for safe play and for your brand protection.
5. Advertise and market, market, market
A lot of soccer tournaments are going to be scared of this economy and pull back their advertising. DON’T LET YOUR TOURNAMENT BE ONE OF THEM! NOW is the time to go out and become visible. Now is the time to grab market share. Now is the time to be bold. Make sure your TICO Score is up-to-date, your tournament is listed correctly at your state association and your other media like podcasts and bulletin board advertising is intact. And, get some postcards/business cards for all your coaches to hand out (ask for Don Denny.)
6. Web site
I saved this for last, but it really is the most important of all. Make sure your web site is up-to-date, and uses the latest technology to bring your guest teams real-time information including scores and standings. We recommend any and all tournaments on this list. Your web site is your front door so it should be easy to find out information. (Who, What, Where, When, How Much does this cost) The application form should be readily accessible and work without any fancy log-ins, pre registration, etc. All TourneyCentral soccer tournaments have these capabilities built in from the ground up.
Our advice: Firstly, if you don’t already have a TourneyCentral web site, get one. Secondly, if you do, make sure it is turned on and ready for 2009. Thirdly, be visible everywhere. If you can, go to the NSCAA in St. Louis. Make sure your TICO Score is current. Advertise and get cards to hand out. But mostly, believe in your event and make sure your club/host coaches, teams, parents and players are your greatest champions and they know and love your tournament as much as you do.
2009 could be make or break for a lot of events. Make sure yours is on the “make” list.
Meet us in St. Louis for the NSCAA.
We’re in booth 1735 and we won’t even try to sell you anything, so you can stay and chat as long as you want. Really. And, if you want to make a podcast promoting your soccer tournament, Back of the Net will help you with that. You don’t even need to be a TourneyCentral tournament.